- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon State Police are investigating the agency’s own Portland-area lab after they say a fingerprint analysis appears to have been improperly altered.

Oregon State Police Capt. Alex Gardner informed Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins about the inquiry in a June 17 letter, The Bulletin of Bend reported (https://is.gd/v37DOI).

According to the letter, a forensic scientist matched a fingerprint to a database in a way that violated normal procedure.

Normally a print is run through an Oregon database, then if no match is made a second search is made against a regional database. If no regional match is made, the analyst will run a national database search.

The analyst appears to have missed a match at the state level, but then matched the fingerprint to the same individual after moving up the search, according to the letter.

The scientist then altered a report to make it appear he had followed appropriate procedure, the letter said.

Gardner wrote that nothing about the incident suggest this error would have resulted in unjustified prosecution. He said every fingerprint match is verified by a second analyst.

The analyst who is being investigated has testified five times since 2009.

Capt. Bill Fugate, state police spokesman, would not identify the examiner Wednesday, saying the inquiry was internal and not criminal in nature.

Vitolins confirmed Wednesday that she received the letter from Gardner but said it would be “inappropriate” for her to comment because the investigation is pending.

The internal investigation comes as the Oregon Department of Justice is investigating Bend lab analyst Nika Larsen, who is on leave and suspected of removing of removing drugs and replacing them with over-the-counter medications.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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